FROM OUR ARCHIVES: Charles Taylor was not acting alone

Charles Taylor

Charles Taylor

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
As former Liberian President Charles Taylor becomes the first African leader to stand trial for war crimes, it is worth remembering that the 61-year old father of 14 was not acting alone. Taylor, who headed the National Patriotic Front of Liberia (NPFL), became the country’s President in 1997. He is currently being tried at the International Criminal Court in The Hague, accused of indescribable violations of human rights, which he allegedly committed during his 14-year rule. He is also accused of conspiring to foment the brutal civil war in neighboring Sierra Leone, which he allegedly funded through the Liberian diamond trade. But as I explained last February, Taylor’s diamond smuggling was facilitated by Roger D’Onofrio Ruggiero, an Italian-American 40-year veteran of the CIA, who worked with Taylor and others to channel diamonds into Europe through a number of front-companies. Taylor was also assisted by Ibrahim Bah, a Senegalese who in the 1970s and 1980s was funded by the CIA to join the Mujahedeen in Afghanistan in the war against the Soviet Red Army. It is unlikely, however, that Charles Taylor’s prosecutors at The Hague will be calling on these two witnesses during the trial. Witnesses aside, however, Charles Taylor’s trial may prove to be interesting on numerous levels. Yesterday, for instance, he told the court that his 1985 “escape” from the US maximum security Plymouth County Correctional Facility in Massachusetts, which allowed him to return to Liberia and take over the country through a military coup, took place with US government assistance.